Maple Ridge school district considers lower bus rates

May also allow courtesy riders to boost ridership.

School bus service in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows could return to last year’s rates, and the inclusion again of courtesy riders.

School District No. 42 trustees held a special meeting Thursday to consider those two key staff recommendations, along with other adjustments to the system, said trustee Susan Carr.

She did not offer details of where the funding would come for the revisions.

“We’ve got to make it happen. We don’t want the pilot to fail,” said Carr. “There is a feeling out there that we set it up to fail.”

The school board previously budgeted $650,000 for school bus service, but had eliminated that expenditure and all school bus service starting in September, as a budget cut.

With the education ministry announcing $630,000 in restored funding in early June, the board set up a new school bus pilot project with $260,000 in funding, and more than doubled the fees collected from parents.

Those advocating for restored service criticized the system as under-funded and set to fail.

A member of the group, Anita Brierly, released a chart this week comparing the bus system in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to others in the province, and said it is the worst.

As proposed, the local pilot project would have had the highest school bus fees in B.C., and the highest walk limits.

As well, it would be the only district not allowing courtesy riders – students who live too close to qualify for bus service, but are willing to pay.

Brierly said all districts allow courtesy riders where they can fit them on to bus routes, because they add revenue and make the whole system more viable.

There are parents who asked for bus service, and they are willing to pay, but because they live within the walk limits, they have been refused.

Brierly said one boy, who has health considerations, would have to watch the bus drive right past him on his way to school.

Before any of Thursday’s proposed changes, the local district would have the highest cost fee for a single rider in B.C. at $416 per year, and the highest fees for multiple riders, because there are no breaks given for multiple riders from the same family.

There are families with four bus students who are expected to pay $1,664 for the service. The next highest such rate in B.C. is Central Okanagan, which has a family maximum of $900.

However, if the board restores the 2015-2016 fee schedule, parents would pay $215 per single rider, with the third and fourth child costing $100 each.

Only about 25 per cent of the boards in the province have bus fees.

The walk limits here are four kilometers for children in kindergarten to Grade 3, and 4.8 km for students in grades 4-12, but many districts have shortened their walk limits.

Brierly sent the information to all trustees and many school district officials on Monday evening, asking whether they had considered such facts before they approved their new bus system.

Her group has been lobbying MLAs Doug Bing and Marc Dalton for the province to intervene, with dedicated transportation funding.

Carr said registration for the bus pilot project was lower than expected, and problems are evident, so it was time for the board to reconsider the proposed system.

She said the board will be extending the deadline for bus parents until the middle of August.


Just Posted

Flu shots now available in pharmacies and clinics

15 locations in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

E-mountain bikes now will be riding to the rescue

Maple Ridge squad can get to lost people, faster

VIDEO: First all-female spacewalk team makes history

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir did work on International Space Station’s power grid

$50,000 reward for ‘extremely violent’ South Surrey murder suspect renewed

Offer for information on Brandon Teixeira to remain in effect through April, 2020

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Council asks to limit cruise ship visits to Victoria harbour

Mayor says motion is not meant to curtail current visits or limit local cruise industry expansion

Chilliwack man pleads guilty in crash that killed pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged under Motor Vehicle Act for accident that killed Kelowna school teacher

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Most Read